Category Archives: DFW International

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire

Photo: During a training exercise at DFW International Airport, firefighters from Canada team up with the DFW firefighter crew to practice responding to different fire emergencies. /Photo by Courtney Ouellette

Watching billowing clouds of thick, black smoke rising from an airport can be disconcerting. Strangely, this is a common occurrence at the DFW International Airport. Every year, the airport and 911 receive numerous tweets and phone calls from concerned travelers and passersby.

Though the fires are real, they are purposefully set by the DFW Airport’s Fire Training Research Center for annual recertification live burn training, which is required by aviation regulations.

Randall Rhodes, the battalion chief of the fire training and research center, says firefighter training is a continuous activity and a necessary one.
“Firefighter training is an ongoing, constant thing, in case something big does happen,” Rhodes said. “The last big one occurred three years ago this month and that was in San Francisco.”

Rhodes is referring to the Asiana Airlines flight from Seoul, South Korea, that crashed while landing at San Francisco International Airport on July 7, 2013.
The DFW Airport is among the top training facilities in the world due to its advanced training tools like a 3D liquid hydrocarbon pit and a burnable A380 aircraft. Furthermore, unlike many facilities, the DFW training center is available for use year-round.

“We entertain agencies from all over the world, including China, South Africa, Singapore, Central and South America and some places in Europe and Africa too,” Rhodes said.

Because of this, travelers visiting the DFW International Airport should take comfort in knowing the amount of time and dedication the men and women of the firefighter training center spend preparing for emergencies.

DFW Airport looks forward to record breaking summer travel

A record 18 million passengers are expected to move through the terminals of the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport during the upcoming summer season.

“That is the best summer ever for DFW if that projection holds,” airport spokesperson David Magana said during a press conference at the airport on Thursday, May 21. The projection represents a 1.3 percent increase in passengers compared to last year.

It remains to be seen if the increase in passengers will impact wait times at security checkpoints. Wait times ranged from one minute to up to 30 minutes for the week proceeding Memorial Day weekend, according to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The figures apply to passengers using Pre-Check, a Department of Homeland Security pre-screening registry for “trusted travelers.”

High-end restaurants and shops and lower parking rates are among things travelers can expect to see this summer at DFW airport. Lower parking rates are in effect through Aug. 31. Customers parking at the airport for 7 days will spend $55 or less than $8 a day.

“We are really trying to improve the customer experience from the moment they arrive at the airport and they get on their flight,” DFW airport spokesperson Cynthia Vega said. “We want to make that an unforgettable experience in the most positive ways you can imagine.”

New restaurants and shops include La Madeleine, Wing Stop, the Belgian Beer Café, and TUMI, Swarovski crystal and Brookstone. An XpresSpa will allow travelers to get a pedicure, manicure or facial before their flight.

“We’re continuing to elevate the level of our shops inside the terminals and in the restaurants to give people more variety and also more high-end options for shopping,” Vega said. “That is something our customers are asking for.”

The airport is also looking for ways to be more accessible and friendly with customers. For example, the airport’s “Sunny Service Days” team will be interacting with travelers who use the hash tag #DFWSummer on Twitter. .

“We’re going to be having fun with our customers,” Magana said.

The airport will be asking travelers to share experiences and photos on social media.

Those in charge of promoting the airport say they are looking to do small things to make the experience special for travelers. On Mother’s Day, for example, the airport fulfilled a customer’s request to have flowers delivered to his mother when she got off of her flight.

“It’s little moments like that where we’re hoping to give some ‘wow’ moments to people,” Vega said.

Later in the summer, the airport expects to complete a new parking garage with 7,700 parking spaces for Terminal A. The parking garage features small red and green lights above each parking space to indicate where parking is available. When finished, it will represent the first completed project under the airport’s terminal improvement program, according to Magana.

The parking light system also saves travelers a lot of time.

“Our parking garages are lighter and brighter and there are high-speed elevators that take you right to the terminal,” Vega said. “You don’t have to climb up and down stairs with your gear anymore. Even simple things, such as all of the levels are flat. You no longer have an incline when you are pulling up your luggage.

“It’s little things like that we are doing to really try to make the customer feel appreciated. We are listening to them, and we want them to know that when they come to the airport, their time is valuable.”

The airport also recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of Skylink, an automated people-mover system that transports passengers between terminals. To date, Skylink has logged more than 32 million fleet miles.

Other new features include more electronics charging stations and enhanced WiFi coverage.

The airport’s summer travel season runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Volaris begins service from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport to Guadalajara

Photo: Fandango dancers celebrate the inaugural Volaris flight from Guadalajara to DFW Airport. /Photo by John Starkey

A celebration made complete with festive music, fandango dancers and cupcakes awaited the inaugural Volaris flight from Guadalajara to Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport on April 29. The carrier will use Airbus A320 aircraft and will operate out of DFW’s International Terminal D three times a week to Guadalajara offering passengers another convenient low-cost option for traveling to Mexico.

“DFW welcomes Volaris as our newest airline,” said John Ackerman, executive vice president of global strategy and development at DFW Airport. “At DFW Airport, it is our mission to bring new opportunities for travel and business to Dallas and Fort Worth. Volaris has earned a reputation for high quality service at affordable prices, and is now regarded as not only one of the leading airlines in Mexico, but as a leader in Mexico and US transporter market.

“As Texas’ largest trade partner, Mexico is the engine for its economy. The state of Texas generates more trade with Mexico than any other US state, more than $190 billion of exports and imports combined. This represents 40 percent of DFW’s international traffic. The new service increases travel options for all customers to Mexico and will support more growth of the leisure travel market between Guadalajara and North Texas.

“The arrival of Volaris continues a record run of success over the past four years of new air carriers and new routes launched from DFW. Thirty new international routes have been added since 2011, 21 of these to new destinations. It’s an honor to continue to bring the world to DFW, and to continue to be known as the front door to North Texas,” he said.

“We are extremely excited to forge ahead with our expansion into the US via its most important cities, and that is the case with Dallas/Fort Worth, which according to the US Census Bureau, has a 39 percent Hispanic resident base,” said Holger Blankenstein, Volaris chief commercial officer. “Now they have a new option to visit family and friends in Mexico. Furthermore, our customers in Mexico’s Perla Tapatía, as Guadalajara is commonly referred to locally, also benefit greatly from the extensive connectivity to visit family and friends on both sides of the border, especially given that we operate the largest destination offering from this city – to 20 international and 18 domestic destinations, averaging 525 flights per week.”

Consul General of Mexico in Dallas, José Octavio Tripp Villanueva, was an honored guest at the Volaris launch.

“As the General Consul of Mexico, it is a real privilege to precede the outstanding crowds of interactions between Mexico and the state of the Lone Star,” Villanueva said. “The intensity of the relationship between Mexico and Texas is unstoppable. It is increasing every day. Currently, the financial trading as close to $200 million every day, and growth is in our future.”

Volaris currently serves over 50 destinations in Mexico, the United States and Central America, and has the youngest fleet of any airline with an average aircraft age of four years among its 52 Airbus aircraft.

American Airlines launches 787 Dreamliner flights from DFW

Photo: In celebration of its inaugural flight, guests got an exclusive look at the 787 Dreamliner cockpit. /Photo by Steve Gould

An enthusiastic crowd of airline and airport guests, employees and executives celebrated the inaugural flight of American Airlines’ Boeing 787 Dreamliner on Thursday, May 7, at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

On a rainy, gloomy morning, the 787 Dreamliner departed from DFW to the Chicago O’Hare International Airport. Despite the cloudy weather, airline executives beamed with pride prior to the plane’s inaugural flight.

“We’re excited to be the first airline to bring the Dreamliner to DFW,” said Fern Fernandez, Executive Vice President of Global Strategy and Development for American Airlines.
Depending on the model, the plane seats up to 280 passengers. Although it is big, it is also cost-effective.

The cost-effective features of the airplane make it a very powerful tool for airlines, according to Allan Smolinski, Boeing’s director of (commercial) sales for the Americas.
Designed for maximum fuel efficiency and passenger comfort, the Dreamliner holds the world record for speed and distance, and can travel around the world in 42 hours and 27 minutes, according to Boeing’s website.

Passenger Shane Adelman of Dallas said it was exciting to be a part of something for the first time.

“It’s something that only happens once,” Adelman said. “It’s pretty cool.”

Adelman researched the plane online and was impressed with its large overhead luggage storage areas, big windows and fuel efficiency.

“I really like the windows,” he said before boarding the plane. “And I like the economics of the airplane.”

Windows on the 787 are about 25 percent larger than windows on other airplanes. The size provides all passengers the ability to see outside – even if they are not in a window seat. A touch button on the windows allows passengers to dim or brighten the amount of light coming through. The tinted window technology can also keep the cabin cool while it is on the ground in hot climates.

Passengers also have more room on the 787.

In the main cabin, passengers will have up to five additional inches of legroom, universal power outlets and USB ports at every seat, in-seat entertainment featuring 250 movies, more than 180 TV programs and 350 audio selections, and international Wi-Fi ability, officials said.

Additional amenities in the business class section include seats that transform into 77-inch beds, along with expanded living and table space and noise-cancelling headsets.
Passengers are not the only ones enjoying the new plane. American Airlines Capt. Greg Knapp said he was not flying the 787 on Thursday, yet he could not resist stopping by to watch it take off.

“It’s always fun to fly the latest and greatest,” Knapp said. “This has the latest features and technology.”

New technology provides 787 passengers with a smoother ride. The 787 is able to sense turbulence and adjust its wing surfaces. Additionally, the engine design allows for less cabin noise, as well as less noise while flying over communities.

Over the next month, Boeing 787 service will switch from domestic flights to international flights. Daily non-stop flights will take place from DFW to Beijing and Buenos Aires.

“New destinations create a standing connectivity between DFW and Asia and also connect travelers from Asia to the Americas efficiently and easily,” said John Ackerman, executive vice president for global strategy and development at DFW International Airport.

A celebration was also held at DFW May 7 for the first non-stop flight connecting Beijing and DFW.

The DFW airport is about half-way through a more than $2.7 billion renovation project, which includes renovating the airport’s four original terminals, Ackerman said.

“Our customers are seeing new dates, new finishes, and a brighter look and feel along with new restaurants and shopping,” Ackerman said.

Frontiers of Flight Museum’s gala honors those with passion for flight

Aviation is a passion and a lifestyle for those who love to fly.

“There is a famous saying in aviation,” Sean Donohue, chief executive officer of the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, said. “To most people the sky is the limit. To those who love aviation, the sky is home.”

Donohue made the comment at the 2015 Gala for the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas on Saturday, May 16. During the event, Donohue received the George E. Haddaway Award. The award recognized Donohue’s 28-year career as an aviation leader and celebrated DFW International Airport’s service to North Texas as well as its ties throughout the world.

“Tonight we celebrate the magic of aviation,” Donohue said. “For more than 100 years, aviation has changed the way we work, live and travel.”

More than 600 people attended the annual fundraiser at the museum.

Donohue focused many of his comments on the late Jan Collmer, an aviation enthusiast and pilot who helped found the Frontiers of Flight Museum 29 years ago. Collmer died in January from myelodysplastic syndrome, a bone marrow disease, according to published reports.

“He was an aviator and an entrepreneur who knew no bounds,” Donohue said. “At DFW, the team fondly remembers the day in 1996 when he helped dedicate our seventh runway, cutting the ribbon with the propeller of his plane as he flew by just feet off the ground. You still hear that story to this day.”

A video of Collmer flying his plane – at age 74 – showed him tilting, diving and swirling across the sky.

  1. Robert Smith and his wife, Carmella, of Dallas attended the gala in honor of Collmer, who was a close friend.

“My whole life has been in flying,” Smith said.

Smith was the pilot for the flying scenes for the movie, The Bridges at Toko-Ri, a 1954 film set in the Korean War that starred William Holden and Grace Kelly.

“The sound stage was bigger than (AT&T) Stadium,” he said.

Smith served in the Korean War as a U.S. Navy fighter pilot, an admiral and major general.

A short film was aired that featured the Liberty Jump Team, a World War II military parachute exhibition group of active duty and veterans. The film, Dirty ½ Dozen, also featured cameo appearances by the following local figures from Dallas and Fort Worth:

DFW International Airport Board Chair, Lillie Biggins

DFW International Airport Board Vice Chair, Sam Coats

Director of Aviation, City of Dallas Aviation Department Mark Duebner

Former Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief

President & CEO, Dallas Regional Chamber Dale Petroskey

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings

President & CEO, Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce Bill Thornton

The keynote speaker for the gala was Amelia Rose Earhart, the youngest woman to fly around the world in a single-engine aircraft. She also is president of the Fly With Amelia Foundation, a non-profit organization that offers flight-training scholarships to young women.

Her parents named her after Amelia Mary Earhart, who attempted to fly around the world in 1937.

“Why on earth would I have that name?” Earhart said. “I’m not related. My family’s last name is Earhart, spelled the same way.”

Her parents named her Amelia after one of the most passionate and adventurous women out there.

“They gave me some pretty big shoes to fill,” Earhart said. “I became my version of Amelia Earhart.”

Money raised from the gala helps support the museum’s mission of education that annually serves more than 12,000 students. The museum this year expanded its six-week Science of Flight program to include 23 Dallas Independent School District elementary school campuses. The museum’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program reaches out to young women and economically disadvantaged students, among others.

Sun & Star Legacy Award honors individuals for contributions to business, arts

Photo: Distances between people continue to shrink as the Japan-America Society of Dallas/Fort Worth honors Chairman Emeritus Yoshiyuki Kasai of Central Japan Railway Company and samurai armor collectors Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller during the Sun & Star Legacy Award Dinner. /Photo by John Starkey

The Japan-America Society of Dallas/Fort Worth (JASDFW) honored Chairman Emeritus Yoshiyuki Kasai of Central Japan Railway Company and samurai armor collectors Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller of Dallas during the Sun & Star Legacy Award Dinner at the Four Seasons Resort and Club in Irving on April 20.

“Our annual Sun & Star Legacy Award Dinner celebrates the considerable presence of Japan in North Texas,” said Elaine Browning, JASDFW president. “Japan is the third largest trading partner for North Texas with two-way trade of $4.3 billion in 2013. There are more than 100 Japan-based companies in North Texas and 14 non-stop round-trip flights between DFW and Narita every week. Moreover, three Metroplex cities have sister or friendship cities in Japan – Dallas and Sendai, Fort Worth and Nagaoka, and Southlake and Tome; and several area universities have Japanese sister schools.”

“The evening is kind of an unusual opportunity for American and Japanese executives who are involved in U.S.-Japan businesses to get together for networking and business development in a social setting,” said Anna McFarland, executive director of JASDFW. “There aren’t many opportunities for those executives specifically involved in US-Japan relations to get together and interact.

“The bilateral U.S.-Japan relationship between the countries is very important internationally and the Japan American societies around the country support that relationship through their grass roots efforts. The people to people relationship supports the country to country relationship.

“Personally, I think there is just kind of a fascination that happens to Americans who go spend time in Japan. They come back hooked on it. I think that’s what keeps it going. It’s the people who volunteer who have that kind of personal passion for the Japanese culture and their experience with the US-Japan friendship,” she said.

Kasai joined Japan National Railway (JNR) in 1963 and played a major role in JNR’s reform. After the break-up and privatization of JNR, he was appointed President of JR Central in 1995, Chairman in 2004, and then Chairman Emeritus in 2014.

Yoshiyuki Kasai received the Sun & Star Legacy Award for his distinguished leadership and strong commitment to bringing true high-speed rail service to the United States.

“Twenty years have passed since the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union,” Kasai said during his address. “However, I feel the world is still searching for a workable trademark for the 21st century. Today the main stage for international politics has shifted from Europe Atlantic to the Asia Pacific, and U.S.-Japan faces a second important crossroads on the world par-line since 1960. That important, steadfast U.S. Japan alliance and its contribution to peace and stability of the region cannot be overstated. We cannot let others think that they can drive a wedge between the U.S. and Japan.

“I believe there are two things that need to be accomplished. First, on the security’s front for Japan to increase its military contribution to the alliance in order to enhance its deterrence.

“Secondly, on the economic front to strengthen the foundation for the free trade through the signing of transpacific partnership.

“Both of the opposing groups are not as loud as they were in the 1960s,” he said. “However, there is very high degree of economic interdependency between the U.S. foreign-policy and China today.

“I feel that some take advantage of this fact to manipulate public opinion in a most subtle manner to try to weaken ties between the U.S. and Japan.

“Part my desire to further strengthen U.S.-Japan relations happens to be important to two areas which are relevant to Texas. The first is space. The Japan’s National Space Policy Committee for which I happen to be a chairman was consulted last September by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is the chair of Strategic Headquarters for Space Policy, to devise a basic plan on space policy taking into account national security and U.S. Department cooperation as the core. My policy draft that the committee presented was approved by the Strategic Headquarters on Jan. 9.

“Texas a leader in space. It is my hope that Japan can work closely with Texas institutions on issues relating to space.

“The second area is that of high-speed rail. I am a railroad man,” Kasai said. “I have been in the industry for 51 years. I’m in my 28th year at JR Central, the company that owns and operates Tōkaidō Shinkansen. It is a high-speed rail system, commonly known as a bullet train, operating on the 320 mile corridor connecting Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka. The Tōkaidō Shinkansen celebrated its 50th anniversary last autumn. The total distance that train has run over all these years amounts to the distance equivalent to seven roundtrips between the sun and earth. The number of people who have used our service total 5.6 billion people, and we have not had one fatality or injury.

“The most realistic way for me to contribute to the 21st century business relationship is to farm that Tōkaidō Shinkansen total system technology and know-how to enable the U.S. to improve its transport system,” he said.

Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller received the Bridges-to-Friendship Award for fostering appreciation of Japanese culture in North Texas.

They have enriched the arts in North Texas with their superb collection of samurai art and armor. The Samurai Collection – among the largest private collections of Japanese armor – was amassed by Ann and Gabriel and their children over the past 25 years. In March 2013, The Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum: The Samurai Collection opened in the historic St. Ann’s School in Dallas’s Harwood district. A treasure house of armor, helmets, masks, and weaponry spanning ten centuries, it is the only museum outside Japan dedicated solely to the art and culture of the samurai.

The Honorary Hosts of the Sun & Star Legacy Award Dinner were Ambassador and Mrs. J. Thomas Schieffer. Ambassador Schieffer is former U.S. Ambassador to Japan and Australia and now senior adviser for Texas Central High-Speed Railway.

American Airlines offers non-stop flights from DFW to Beijing, China

Photo: Students of the Jia Ping Shi Dance School in Plano celebrate the American Airlines’ inaugural flight from the DFW Airport to Beijing, China, with traditional Chinese dances. /Photo by Steve Gould

Beijing-style dancing and authentic music kicked off a celebration for American Airlines’ inaugural flight from the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to Beijing, China on Thursday, May 7.

Travelers, city officials and airline executives joined in the festivities. The new, non-stop flights to Beijing will open up more cultural and business opportunities between China and the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

“It’s a brand new flight, so it’s going to be much more fun,” said Yudong Zhao, a passenger who is a public relations student at the University of Alabama and a native of China.

Two years ago, Zhao flew back to China to visit family there but had to first travel to Houston to catch a non-stop flight. The DFW flights offer him a more economical way to get back home again.

Zhao hopes the flights will allow more communication and exchange between China and the U.S.

“It will allow people to experience different cultures and lifestyles,” Zhao said. “There will be more interaction between America and China.”

American is using a Boeing 777-200ER aircraft to kick off the non-stop service, and will switch to a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner in June. Earlier in the morning, American Airlines marked the inaugural flight of the Dreamliner from Dallas to Chicago.

Doug Parker, chairman and CEO of American Airlines, said service is now offered to five major business markets in Asia: Beijing, Hong Kong, Seoul, Shanghai and Tokyo.

The new service between Beijing and DFW is expected to fuel an estimated $200 million into the local economy.

“This new destination further enhances our network footprint and allows for one-stop connections through DFW between Asia and major business and leisure destinations in North, Central and South America,” Parker said.

Beijing is the government of China’s capital, as well as its center for business and cultural events.

“This new flight to Beijing is a milestone achievement for our airport and for our region as we gain nonstop connectivity to one of the world’s leading business centers and the capital of China,” said Sean Donohue, CEO of DFW International Airport.

“This airport benefits greatly from American’s passion,” Donohue said. “Our mission at the airport is truly to connect the world and with this service to Beijing, it represents another major milestone in the history of the airport and the entire north Texas region. The Beijing flight opens up markets for our businesses, tourism and the economy.”

The celebration featured several of the top dancers from the Jia Ping Shi Dance School in Plano, which teaches traditional Chinese dance. One of their dances featured the waist drum, an instrument used during festivals and other celebrations.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price were also in attendance. Rawlings and Price both said they are hopeful the new connection will promote additional revenue and bring more cultural exchange to the Dallas-Fort Worth region.

“It allows us to connect to one of the greatest world capitals in the history of the world,” said Rawlings said. “We believe this will drive so many agendas of the international sector.”

That includes a “vision” of having the area serve as one of the business epicenters of the Western Hemisphere.”

Less than one year ago, American also began flights from DFW to Hong Kong and Shanghai. Serving more than 62 million passengers annually, DFW is the ninth-busiest airport in the world.

Viva Aerobus celebrates new DFW Airport flights

Photo: Celebrating a successful relationship, DFW Airport welcomes a Viva Aerobus flight with a shower of affection. /Photo Courtesy of DFW Airport

As a mariachi band played and cake was served to guests waiting at the gate, Viva Aerobus, one of Mexico’s leading low-cost carriers, celebrated their service from Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport to Monterrey and Guadalajara. When the flight landed, the Airport extended a formal welcome with a water cannon salute known as a “shower of affection” on April 16.

Viva Aerobus launched service on March 28 with three weekly flights to Monterrey and Guadalajara, using Airbus A320 aircraft that seat 180 passengers and Boeing 737 aircraft that seat 148 passengers.

“At DFW our vision is connecting the world, which brings new opportunities for travel and business to Dallas/Fort Worth,” said John Ackerman, executive vice president of global strategy and development at DFW Airport. “Viva Aerobus is a welcomed addition to DFW. Viva Aerobus is a leading airline in Mexico, which makes them a perfect partner for DFW. At DFW airport we are proud that our work helps grow the economies of Dallas and Fort Worth and North Texas. Mexico represents almost 50 percent of our international travel. Trade and tourism between North Texas and Mexico continues to expand, and this new Viva Aerobus service strengthens these ties.

“We thank you Viva Aerobus for your commitment to the Dallas-Fort Worth region,” he said.

Viva Aerobus currently serves 21 destinations in Mexico with hubs in Monterrey and Cancun. The airline flies to three U.S. destinations in addition to DFW Airport.

“We are thrilled to launch these two new routes, which represent a significant milestone in the development of our network across the United States, and to bring our low-cost travel option to Dallas passengers,” said Robert Zoller, Viva Aerobus COO. “The Dallas/Fort Worth market is critical for business, and these new services are a direct conduit to open new opportunities for trade and tourism, which represent a huge opportunity for significant economic impact.

“We are thrilled about being a permanent resident here in DFW. We love Texas. We love DFW. We’ve had very good success flying passengers to Houston and San Antonio. Those passengers have now indicated to us a very strong desire to fly to DFW, so as a result we are adding frequencies to both Guadalajara and Monterey. Hopefully in the future, we will be adding additional flights from other cities in Mexico to DFW.”

Consul General of Mexico in Dallas, José Octavio Tripp Villanueva, was an honored guest at Viva Aerobus’ celebration.

“As the Consul General of Mexico it is a real privilege to be here at the airport celebrating the opening of another flight between Mexico and Texas in particular with two of the most important cities in Mexico, Guadalajara and Monterey, with two of the most important cities in the United States, Dallas and Fort Worth,” Villanueva said. “With this flight, we already have more than 20 connections between Mexico and Texas. This is an expression of the intensity that underlies the interaction between Mexico and Texas not only in economic terms but in social terms as well.

“I am sure that everyone is very happy about having more options for benefits of the customers between Mexico and North Texas. Viva Aerobus and DFW airport are contributing to a more fruitful and productive interaction between Mexico and Texas,” he said.

Since 2011, DFW has added 29 new international routes, 20 of those to new international destinations. Viva Aerobus is one of nine international carriers to announce or start service at DFW since then, extending the Airport’s recent run of international expansion.

Competition takes drone command to new level

Photo: Spectators, Jenny and Ellie (4) Karlovetz, get as close as possible to watch some of the most technologically advanced, individually owned drones in the area maneuver through the Drone Wars Flight Arena. /Photo by John Starkey

Every drone owner faces a similar dilemma. Once you learn to operate your drone well enough so you do not run it into the first stationary object it flies past, you have to contend with the neighbors. There is the crazy lady who is convinced you are spying on her. The bizarre neighbor, who has the FAA on speed dial. And then there is that old guy with shorts swinging past his knees, who attempts to knock your drone out of the sky with his golf balls.

The real problem, however, runs deeper than neighborhood technophobes. Drone users want a place where they can show their skills and be appreciated while learning in a cooperative and fun filled atmosphere.

The Cavanaugh Flight Museum created a drone lover’s paradise when it hosted Drone Wars on Saturday, April 4. Featuring a 3-D, side-by-side obstacle course in an 11,000 square foot enclosed hangar, the event offered the first ever head-to-head drone precision racing. Classes included beginner, intermediate, and expert pilots racing electric, four rotor drones with up to 12-inch spans on the back rotors from motor to motor.

“Drone Wars was totally awesome,” said competitor Richard Prince II, a.k.a. Gadget Man. “It was something that the community actually needs. It brings a little more awareness about what is going on with drones. It’s going to create a hunger and thirst for new gadgets and technology along with new ideas regarding what we can actually do with drones to keep a lot of people out of trouble.

“I enjoyed the wins, the losses, the crashes. To see some of these people maneuver their drones and fly them through different objects was fun. It’s just a wonderful place to be. Then afterwards, you get a chance to look at the Museum and see all the planes.

“I think the idea of this event will spread out. So before long we will have races everywhere,” he said.

As a first of its kind event, the Cavanaugh Flight Museum’s staff was very happy with Drone Wars.

“We had no idea how [the event] was going to go, because it has never been done before,” said Scott Slocum, Marketing Director for the Cavanaugh Flight Museum. “We made up the course ourselves. We came up with the concept of the name, the competition and the racing rules.

“The response from the crowd was phenomenal. We had more people here as spectators than competitors, which is a good thing.

“We had 15 competitors total. The event tested their skills in a way they had not been tested,” he said. “This course was much more intricate and required more delicate skills on the controls than just speeding through the course. It was about being smooth and accurate. In truth, in drone flying that’s the way it is.

“If you are flying movie cameras, you’re flying a pipeline inspection or you are doing a search, it is all about precision and accuracy. It is not about speed or flashiness.

“There were a few spills out there, a few broken blades, but everyone seemed to walk away happy. The competitors were all very good. A 13-year-old won the competition.

“We really wanted to promote young people in aviation. Doing a future of aviation event in a historical setting like this is a good pairing,” he said.

There is already discussion of another drone racing event being hosted by the Cavanaugh sometime in the fall. The event could not have materialized without sponsorship from HobbyTown USA.

“Drone Wars was a lot of fun,” said Ted Sparrow, the owner of four area HobbyTown USAs. “Some of these machines are handmade, so people are taking the best of what others have designed and are adding to technology that is purchased off-the-shelf. It is innovation makes [Drone Wars] exciting. From that, we get other products and new inventions from everybody experimenting.”

Engineers demonstrate skills by building, racing models

Photo: Engineers at play: winners of Lockheed Martin’s CO2-powered scale-model drag races proudly show off their creations. /Photo by John Starkey

Lockheed Martin celebrated National Engineers Week in an effort to promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, and to recognize the Corporation’s 60,000 engineers, scientists and information technology professionals.

As part of the festivities, Grand Prairie Missiles and Fire Control hosted CO2-powered scale-model drag races on March 2.

Derek Bower’s car won the races when his model traveled the 60 ft. track in .812 seconds.

“I love cars, and I love racing,” Bower said. “I spent hours brainstorming and planning. It’s Engineering Week, so I wanted to do as much engineering as I could. I love engineering, so I wanted to take engineering concepts and best practices and put them in the something fun and exciting to put on a good show.

“I took off weight and made it the least resistant to friction. I took off as much of the wooden body as I felt comfortable removing without risking it shattering halfway down the track as it was going.

“Hopefully, next year I will come back and win it again with a different car. There is always room to improve and make it better. There is always another advancement to make,” he said.

Benjamin Paredes discussed the reasons behind the races.

“Every year during Engineers Week, we like to celebrate all of our engineers and all sorts of STEM things, so we have department competitions and team competitions.

“We have a big muffler trophy that travels around and people get to keep it for the year they win. We have speed competitions and design competitions. It allows people to branch out their creativity.”

Additional Engineers Week activities for Lockheed Martin Fort Worth and Grand Prairie employees included opportunities to participate in lunch and learns, hands-on activities with students at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, Frontiers of Flight Museum, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, and classroom visits.